Mike Stevens | Apr 30, 2009

As fond as Jeremy Clarkson may be of describing Richard Hammond as a girly boy, the Hamster’s manicured styling and trendy haircuts - or even James May’s flowing locks - might not be enough to get the Top Gear trio through its latest run-in with the show’s detractors.

A new bill has been introduced in Britain this week, called the Equality Bill, which requires that government organisations seek to demonstrate a greater acceptance of diversity among its ranks.

Because Top Gear is broadcast on the BBC network – a government-owned group – we could soon see a lady type (yes, of the female variety) testing cars and serving up the news on the world’s favourite automotive program.

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Oxford sociology and women’s studies tutor Dr Louise Livesey said the show’s production team has a strong “boys’ club” atmosphere, along with fewer female than male guests.

While Dr Livesey described Top Gear as offering only “entrenched, institutional sexism,” Executive Producer Andy Wilman felt – unsurprisingly – otherwise.

If the show is allegedly female-unfriendly, why is almost half the audience female?

Secondly, if we are to have a female presenter just to represent the sexes, then by that logic Loose Women needs a bloke in the line-up pretty sharpish.

I actually believe these sorts of mandates are patronising to women viewers, because they assume that women can't enjoy a show's presenters on merit, but can only appreciate a programme if spoken to by one of their own sex.

If it does come to the team taking on a female presenter, perhaps the boys can entice Vicky Butler-Henderson to defect, or Germany’s gun Sabine Schmidt…

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